Many annoying symptoms associated with menopause can begin as early as four years before your last period and last until four years later or longer. While some issues eventually improve over time, the changes that occur with menopause can leave you susceptible to serious complications that last the rest of your life.
No matter what stage of menopause you’re experiencing, you can monitor a wide range of disease risks with regular screenings and diagnostics. The physicians at Macomb Medical Clinic in Sterling Heights, Michigan, provide professional preventive medicine for men and women of all ages. Comprehensive annual wellness exams and convenient, in-office medical services can help you manage your overall health and well-being through menopause and beyond.
Based on your diagnosis, the primary care staff at Macomb Medical Clinic recommends a treatment plan to help you remain healthy and reverse or treat your problems. Find out more about the five most common complications associated with menopause.
#1 Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease ranks as the leading cause of death among women and accounts for almost 50% of deaths in women over age 50. This collection of conditions includes stroke, hypertension, myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, and valvular heart disease.
Normal estrogen levels help keep your artery walls flexible and expandable to accommodate changes in blood flow. However, you lose this protection with lower estrogen levels. At the same time, aging makes you more susceptible to conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and an inactive lifestyle, which can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease.
In the U.S., one in four women age 65 and older has osteoporosis. The loss of estrogen that occurs with menopause hastens bone loss and the onset of osteoporosis. Studies indicate that you can lose up to 20% of bone density in the five to seven years right after menopause.
When you have normal estrogen levels, your bones are constantly breaking down and being renewed. However, with osteoporosis, you don’t create enough new bone mass to replace the lost bone. This makes your bones naturally weak and more susceptible to breaks from falls or mild events such as coughing or bending over. Women who have the greatest bone density at the onset of menopause have a lower risk of getting osteoporosis.
#3 Overactive Bladder
You’re more likely to experience symptoms of an overactive bladder in the years following menopause. An overactive bladder can include urinating more often than normal, sudden urges to urinate, difficulty urinating, or waking to urinate two or more times every night.
While estrogen keeps your reproductive system healthy, it also maintains the strength of pelvic muscles and bladder tissue that help you control your need to urinate. Lower estrogen levels allow these areas to weaken, giving you less control. Hormonal changes can also increase muscular pressure in the area of your urethra, making you feel the urge to urinate even if your bladder is empty.
#4 Weight Gain
The hormonal changes of menopause can change the way your body collects weight. While you may have gained weight around your hips and thighs when younger, you’re more likely to begin gaining extra weight around the middle after menopause, similar to the way men gain weight.
While it’s natural to gain weight in this area, the situation creates a potential health risk. Extra weight increases your blood volume so your heart has to work harder to pump it through your body. Being overweight or obese also increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, sleep disorders, cancers, and other conditions.
#5 Intimacy Problems
One of the most common changes associated with menopause involves painful intercourse, called dyspareunia. The condition affects up to 45% of postmenopausal women as a result of physical changes in the vaginal tissues that occur with lower estrogen levels. Another common barrier to sexual intimacy is vaginal dryness, a condition that one out of every three women experiences with menopause.
Regular periods regulate hormone levels to make your sex drive peak just before and after ovulation. Without a monthly cycle to encourage arousal, you may have less interest in sex. Emotional changes that affect the way you think about your own body and self-image can also interfere with arousal, so you may have less interest in sex.
Find out more about these complications and others that you may experience as a result of menopause. Call our office for a consultation today.